Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

AUSTRALIA - This report is a collection of weekly cattle price summaries from each Australian state by the Meat & Livestock Australia.
calendar icon 6 August 2010
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

New South Wales weekly cattle summary

Rain falls, prices rise

Further rain across most areas of the state, and minor flooding in some parts, resulting in throughput at markets reported by MLA's NLRS falling 20 per cent. All markets except for Armidale and Dubbo realised reduced yardings. The overall yarding would have been much smaller had Dubbo not increased 51 per cent to account for almost a quarter of the states numbers. This was the result of recent yardings being smaller than anticipated and the good price gains recorded at markets earlier in the week.

The rain not only impacted supply, but quality too, which at many centres was improved on recent weeks. This was due to producers looking to hold onto their plainer lines to finish. The properly finished cattle that were offered had either been supplementary fed or were off crop. Most centres though still had cattle suiting feeder and restocker orders.

All the regular processor buyers were present and active at markets early in the week, however, a couple of regular order were missing from Singleton and Armidale. A full contingent of restockers and feeders made their presence felt across all centres which resulted in dearer prices for all bar a handful of categories.

The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) reached a new yearly high on Thursday, at 366.25¢ which was 5.75¢/kg cwt above the corresponding time last week. A major factor behind the recent push higher by the EYCI has been strong feeder demand, as restockers and processors place a solid floor in the market. The improved seasonal conditions, and outlook, continue to entice restockers to purchase, while processors compete for the suitably finished lines.

Strong demand

Only a small run of calves were offered with restockers securing the majority around 245¢ with sales to 265.2¢/kg. Light vealer steers returning to the paddock topped at 244.2¢ as most made from 216¢ to 235¢/kg. Medium weights averaged 215¢ to remain fully firm as some heavier weights to feeders gained 12¢ to 212¢/kg. The few medium and heavy vealer steers to slaughter made around 208¢/kg. A large run of light vealer heifers to the trade gained 8¢ to 214¢ as medium and heavy weights ranged from 200¢ to 206¢/kg. Light yearling steers to feeders and restockers sold around 210¢ as the medium weights to feed ranged from 205¢ to 209¢/kg. Heavy yearling steers to feeders gained 4¢ to 192¢/kg. The few medium weight C3s to the trade lifted 10¢ to 204¢/kg as the heifer portion increased 5¢ to 189.2¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feeders remained unchanged at 181¢ as those to export slaughter improved 7¢ to 180¢/kg. Lean heavy steers averaged 184¢ as the C4s sold closer to 185¢/kg. Most of the bullocks made from 180¢ to 182¢/kg. Medium weight D3 cows gained 3¢ to 141¢ as heavy D4s increased slightly to 151¢/kg. Despite a high A$, good heavy high yielding cows made into the mid 160¢/kg range and even higher at times.

South Australia weekly cattle summary

Numbers increase

While numbers slipped at the SA LE for generally good quality runs of mainly young cattle that sold to strong competition from the usual trade and processor buyers. Feeder orders mainly from the Mid North were very active on the lightweight yearling steers, while local butchers and wholesalers sourcing the small number of vealer penned. Yearling steers and heifers while being keenly sourced were generally cheaper to the trade, while being dearer to feeder activity.

Only small numbers of export categories were offered, with the few grown steers and cows being dearer, as it appears that more of these cattle are heading down to the South East markets where prices have been rising steadily over the past fortnight for cows and only grown steers losing ground.

Naracoorte's improved quality yarding generally sold at dearer levels and mainly due to a few more supplementary feds being offered.

Mt. Gambier's larger yarding featured mixed quality runs that apart from grown steers sold at improved levels. Most of the usual SA and Victorian buyers were present and operating, although a NSW order decided not to purchase any stock at Naracoorte while operating at Mt. Gamber.

An Adelaide Hills wholesaler was also present at Naracoorte, however a lack of suitably weighted prime young cattle meant he left empty handed and a little frustrated. A mid Victorian feedlot was in action at both markets and purchased prime heavy yearling and some grown steers for a possible short term feed.

Solid competition

There was solid competition for most categories, with only grown steers and bullocks attracting a weaker trend. However, even with the A$ over 90¢ it had little affect on cows that continue to attract solid returns for producers. Vealer steers in small numbers to the trade sold from 180¢ to 217¢ at rates unchanged to 5¢/kg cheaper. Feeders and restockers sourced C2 steers from 180¢ to 201¢ at basically unchanged prices. Vealer heifers also in small lines to the trade sold between 170¢ and 230¢, at prices 4¢ to 12¢/kg higher. Yearling steer C3 sales were from 170¢ to 205¢ or 3¢ to 9¢/kg dearer. The C2 and C3 sales to feeders and restockers ranged mainly between 175¢ to 196¢/kg. Yearling heifer C3 and C4 sales were from 163¢ to 196¢ to be generally 2¢ to 3¢/kg dearer. C2 and C3 sales to feeders were between 165¢ and 185¢ also at mainly improved levels.

Grown steers and bullocks were 2¢ cheaper as C3 and C4 sales ranged from 174¢ to 190¢, and mainly 320¢ to 340¢/kg cwt. Most D3 to C6 beef cow sales were from 135¢ to 166¢ or 1¢ to 7¢ dearer, and generally 285¢ to 315¢/kg cwt.

Western Australia weekly cattle summary

Need for rain urgent

Outside of south coastal areas there has been little seasonal joy across the rest of the state. Over the past seven days there has been continuation of the fine and dry weather with rainfall recordings sticking close to the coast and again these were also only minimal. Temperatures in the southern agricultural districts have risen also, but there have been reports of some frosting despite the higher day time temperatures.

The dry conditions have had a negative impact on feed growth in a great many areas and with forecasts predicting little or no rainfall for at least the next seven days the out look is becoming increasingly bleak. The tight conditions have forced some producers to leave hay paddocks open with many still yet to local paddocks up. The dry winter conditions of this season have also seen limited or no run off of water into dams and this will impact carrying capacity later in the year. The dry conditions still remain in the much of the northern pastoral regions with severe drought conditions having been declared.

Physical market numbers were lower, but in line with what would normally be expected at this time of year. Muchea continued to record a solid flow of cattle from the pastoral regions. Prime heavy weight grown steers and heifers remained hard to find, as did trade weight yearlings, either grass or certified grainfed as cows and young store grads accounted for the majority of all weekly sales. As was witnessed towards the end of last week, trade demand was recorded at lower levels.

Cow market constricts

The supplies of new season vealers remained all but non-existent and again those that were solid in physical markets were very lightweight and of mixed quality with little or no change in either trade or restocker demand. The numbers of trade weight yearlings were also very tight in physical markets and sales direct to works with a recent constriction in the supplies of cattle on feed.

Grain fed trade weight quality and weight continued to be very mixed and little or no change was subsequent recorded in local trade demand. Grass finished trade weight yearling cattle were also of mixed quality with most being generally plain. Trad demand remained selective with feeders purchasing the majority. Yearling store quality from local agricultural districts was mixed also, as would normally be expected at this time of year. The market for store steers receded due to a weaker live export demand than was seen the previous week. Store heifers also saw a constriction in values due to a more conservative feeder and restocker inquiry.

Cow numbers in saleyards recorded a continued weakening in trade competition and consequently the market continued to fall in value.

Queensland weekly cattle summary

Feeder buyers very active

Supply at physical markets covered by MLA's NLRS experienced very little change however varied from centre to centre. Useful falls of rain across the supply area reduced numbers at Warwick, while a larger number was penned at the Roma prime sale with increased numbers of heavy bullocks from western districts included in the line-up.

Overall quality remains mixed nevertheless some large samples of bullocks and cows of crop and mature grass are starting to appear in the selling pens. Buyer activity remains strong with southern processes competing against local operators in the vealer sections. Feedlot buyers were also noticeably more active on the yearling grades of both steers and heifers. Some extra export processor competition was evident in some markets and all were keen to purchase their market share.

Calves to both the trade and restockers improved 4¢/kg. This trend also flowed onto the vealer steers with improvements of up to 16¢ in places, and vealer heifers to the trade averaged around 10¢/kg better. A combination of both restocker and feeder support on the lightweight yearling steers saw values lift by 3¢ to 8¢/kg. Yearling heifers generally followed a similar trend with the lightweight descriptions in demand from restockers as well as feeder operators.

Heavy steers to export slaughter averaged 1¢ better while a lift in the overall standard of the bullocks improved average prices by 2¢/kg. Full mouth manufacturing bullocks were not far behind in value with average prices just under the younger grades. Plain condition cows were in demand from restockers as well as processes and average prices managed to lift by 2¢ to 3¢/kg.

Young cattle dearer

A large number of calves sold to the trade averaged 199¢ and made to a top of 233.2¢, while an equally large number returned to the paddock at 208¢ with large consignments making to 231.2¢/kg. Vealer steers restockers mostly sold around 219¢ with some 230¢/kg. The good supply of vealer heifers to the trade averaged 10¢ dearer at 187¢ a few to local butchers at 210¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to restockers were well supplied and averaged 211¢ with sales to 222.2¢, while feeder descriptions sold around 203¢/kg. Medium weight yearling steers to the trade lifted in value by 10¢ to average 176¢ while feeder descriptions made around 196¢ with sales of 216.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to feed and restockers consistently sold in the early 180¢/kg range with trade descriptions reaching 200¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feed averaged 173¢ with occasional sales to 186.2¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter averaged 174¢ while some supplementary fed bullocks made to 190¢ and the remainder mostly sold around 176¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged close to 119¢ and 3 scores 132¢/kg. Good heavy cows made to 160¢ in pen lots while most sold around 145¢/kg.

Victoria weekly cattle summary

Numbers decline

Both Pakenham sales and Bairnsdale were the only markets to offer a very keen contingent of buyers similar sized yardings. All other markets were smaller, which resulted in the overall supply at markets reported by MLA's NLRS to fall 22 per cent. Most of the reduction was the result of good falls of rain right across the state. Most districts recorded between 10 and 50mm with parts of East Gippsland receiving up to 90mm.

While good quality has been a feature of some markets, there was a number of plainer condition cattle penned too. This gave all buying sectors cattle to choose from, however the reduced supply had a positive impact on prices.

Demand was strong for all categories with gains recorded anywhere from unchanged to 7c/kg dearer. Strong interaction between trade buyers, feedlots and restockers continued and this caused the EYCI to reach a high for the year at the completion of Thursday's markets at 366.25¢, which was a rise of 5.75¢/kg cwt week on week.

Demand from processors has been strong for cattle that meet specifications for the domestic boxed beef trade and there is also reasonable export sales. This has assisted heavy yearlings, and grown cattle continue to sell. The Japan market, although subdued, still commands solid demand for heavy grown steers. These have generally sold at firm rates, and although cow prices were mixed, the overall result was better. Given the rise of the A$ this has been a good induction of manufacturing demand. Quality is good, but numbers are down, and processors still need some cattle to fill the shorter working hours experienced of late.

Strong demand

Gippsland markets continue to supply the bulk of the best quality vealers, and some of the top quality supplementary fed yearlings. This was reflected in prices at Pakenham and Bairnsdale offering B muscle vealers which made between 200¢ and 238¢/kg. The supplementary fed yearlings reached 228¢ with numerous sales from 195¢ to 220¢/kg.

Across the other markets, particularly Shepparton and Wodonga, they recorded prices from 190¢ to 220¢/kg. Cattle fitting the specifications for the EYCI generally made from 175¢ to 210¢/kg, and included sales to local processors, feeders and restockers.

While grown steer and bullock supply was down, there continued to be some properly finished lots offered. Prime C muscle bullocks made between 175¢ and 190¢/kg, and included some heavy weights up to 740kg lwt. While good quality beef cows sold from 142¢ to 164¢/kg. However, it did not stop there with lean cows suiting the 90CL US market selling very well. Larger frame cows made from 120¢ to 154¢/kg with only poor condition cows mostly between 95¢ and 135¢/kg. The carcass weight price average was 300¢/kg.

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